Templeton residents vote against marijuana candidates

March 4, 2019

Frances Esters, Jason Kallen, and Marie Roth


The election that brought more than 200 residents to the Templeton Area Advisory Group (TAAG) election in the rain on March 2 was certainly extraordinary. And residents who voted for incumbents Chris Cobey and Bruce Jones were certainly voicing their approval of the current TAAG board. [Cal Coast Times]

But the election was also a rejection of large marijuana cultivation projects near residential dwellings, and those in public office promoting those projects.

Prior to the election, in which marijuana industry insiders Jason Kallen, Frances Esters, and Marie Roth ran against four long-time residents, candidates and their supporters advertised through email blasts. The usually quiet election became highly competitive as marijuana business owners and consultants worked to push their agendas.

During the five-hour polling period on March 2, Kallen and Esters campaigned and took photos inside the polling station. There were also reports that marijuana supporters harassed some election volunteers, TAAG members, and voters during the voting.

TAAG election results

Chris Cobey – 177 votes – delegate

Bruce Jones – 158 votes – delegate

Jon DeMorales – 117 votes – delegate

Rock Spurgeon – 78 – votes – first alternate

Marie Roth – 36 – votes – second alternate

Frances Esters – 17 votes

Jason Kallen – 16 votes

“Clearly, Templeton opposes cannabis activities in our area and in the county,” Powell said. “We see these election results as a message to the cannabis industry and to the SLO County Supervisors, that Templeton area cannabis operations that impact our neighborhoods will not be tolerated.”

Templeton neighbors battle over proposed cannabis cultivation

The new TAAG board will face a divided San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. Both supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson have voiced support for the county becoming a state leader in the marijuana industry. On the other side, supervisors John Peschong and Debbie Arnold have sided with residents concerned with negative impacts related to large commercial cannabis projects near their homes.

Supervisor Lynn Compton appears to vacillate between supporting the property rights of neighbors and supporting the marijuana industry.

After the SLO County Planning Department approved 3 acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation and multiple indoor grows totaling 22,000 square feet on York Mountain Road, neighbor and restaurateur Ian McPhee filed an appeal of the project partially because county staffers decided the project did not need an environmental impact report (EIR).

Both supervisors Hill and Gibson are opposed to requiring an EIR on the proposed project.

On Feb. 26, the board of supervisors listened to McPhee’s appeal of the proposed marijuana cultivation. While smell, traffic, a lack of an EIR, and water use were the neighbor’s greatest concerns, the most contentious issue raised was about impacts to the view shed from Highway 46 west.

Supporters of the York Mountain Road grow, along with supervisors Hill and Gibson, claimed that the grow could not be seen from Highway 46, which is listed as a suggested scenic corridor. They claimed opponents of the project had manipulated photos in an attempt to deceive the board of supervisors.

One of the photos provided by McPhee was of a Google Earth image of the grow in which vegetation was minimized to make it clear where the grow would be located in relation to Highway 46.

To combat that claim, neighbors provided current photos of the proposed grow site which they said were taken from multiple spots along Highway 46. Peschong, the supervisor for the area, agreed that the proposed project can be seen from Highway 46.

Even so, supervisors Gibson, Hill, and Compton argued McPhee and TAAG had purposely provided manipulated photos to stop the project. Compton then asked the neighbors to negotiate a compromise with the marijuana grower before the board makes a decision.

Both sides then agreed to discuss the issue and come back to the board on March 12.

As a reason to support the marijuana grow, Gibson, Hill, and Compton reminded attendees that Californians had voted overwhelmingly in support of marijuana. Opponents of the York Mountain Road grow argue that voting to legalize marijuana use, was not a vote for the supervisors to overlook the impacts of marijuana businesses on neighbors.


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So the pot growers tried a new tactic, bringing their own to run for office!!!

Thought they could save some money instead of having to bribe their way like they did in Grover Beach:(

I guess they’ll have to go back to their tried and true stratagem!!!

Let SLO have this industry as they will need it to cope with who and what is happening in San Luis Obispo. The Cal Poly students strongly support it so let Cal Poly grow it on their campus!

With folks of this ilk shoving grows in wherever they can ya gotta admit vineyards are looking better and better.

Looks like the local marijuana people’s bribes were not big enough. Everyone has their price, which is generally pretty low in SLO county government.

Pot growing is nothing like grape growing. California is already growing nine times the marijuana that is smoked in the state, that is according to the state. The state has already said the bulk of pot grown here is being trafficked, by criminals, to states where it is illegal.

We do not get taxes for illegally sold pot, plus we bring criminals into our neighborhoods. SLO County could be the proud home of the California cartels. Think about it.

Oh, I thought pot and grapes were both grown in the dirt and used for recreational purposes. Actually one has many practical and helpful applications, and is even considered by many medical professionals as a medicine. Medical Vino, baby. And uh, do you think we only grow enough grapes in California exclusively for consumption in California? It too is trafficked, I mean, transported to other states and countries. You’re right about one thing though, and that is that “illegally” sold cannabis is not taxed, and that reason and that reason only is why the state is upset, they are missing out on their lazily earned tax revenue. It’s allll about the money. It’s a weed, it grows in the dirt, it can not kill you. One last thing regarding pot bringing criminals to our neighborhoods. Wineries and bars do just the same, perhaps on a larger scale. Think DUI driver. Cheers.

Pot cannot legally be sent out of state. Also, now that pot is legal, which I voted for, research on medical is showing many of the claims are unfounded. Opium also comes from a plant, but do we want illegal heroin dealers in our community?

Give it a few years and cannabis will be legal nationwide and your point will be moot. We already have legal opiate/heroin dealers in our community and every community, they’re called Medical Doctors.

I don’t dispute the 9x statistic, but… I’m guessing CBD products can be sent out of state. Based on the price of anything with CBDs in it, grow it where you can and send it where you need to for maximum profit.

JordanJ, I agree with you on every point except the last. SLO County IS the home of the California cartels.

But if it were wine grapes being proposed…

Go hang out off the 101 in Northern Paso by the grape waste ponds on a nice hot summer day and tell us again how good that smells.They both stink and nobody wants it in their backyard. Go smoke some of your $10 dollar a lid mexican dogweed and quit yer griping.

Good. Chase these drug guys out of town.